Building Paths + Painting Fences

We spent a month in Tasmania back in January, the best month to visit Tassie! The middle of summer not only provided great weather – albeit fickle – but also festivals and markets and events to enjoy in Hobart and around. We spent most of the month with hosts via HelpEx, meaning we got to see some of the more rural, unique parts of the area. Work-exchanging in a place like Tasmania is brilliant – being a bit less urban, the state feels more community-driven. And thus, being hosted by parts of that community opens up some experiences and sights that wouldn’t otherwise have been available to us as public transport-dependent backpackers.

Namely, on one of our first nights in Margate, our host took us to a music festival in someone’s backyard. The music was great, and the atmosphere magical. The man who’d organized the miniature music festival spent the last decade also organizing for the regenerating of Tasmanian Devils on Maria Island. (Tasmanian Devils were all hit with some awful disease, decimating about half their already endangered population. This gentleman is responsible in part for bringing their numbers back up to where they were pre-disease.) We also saw Bob Brown speak, founder of the Australian Green Party and a member of Australia’s legislature for over a decade. He’s responsible for a great many environmental wins, including keeping the Franklin River from commercial harm. We had a fantastic night – enjoying the music among the pademelons and sipping local ale and getting home late.

Our hosts in Margate took us to secret beaches and to beautiful mountain paths. We worked most weekdays on their land – painting fences and weeding/watering/mulching. Our hosts – Dave and Alessandra – had previously lived in Alice Springs and in Darwin, making for all kinds of fantastic conversations about their work with aboriginal communities and, more recently, with refuges. We ate dinner one night with two of Dave’s former students, recent immigrants into Australia from Afghanistan. Their two boys were enjoying their summer holidays before school started with lots of trampoline-jumping and dog walking and even rock climbing. The whole family had spent five months touring the Western USA a few years ago – driving from Flagstaff, Arizona, up to Alaska and camping in National Parks. They had all sorts of fun stories about quirky Americans they’d met on their travels. Our hosts were also really into the book recommendations and Australian films – they watched Australian classic The Castle with us one night, an immensely quotable comedy about mid-1990s rural Australians which we greatly enjoyed.

Our home for those couple of weeks was a caravan just down the hill from their house, and we enjoyed it! It was a fun little tiny house – despite the morning we woke up to a giant huntsman spider on the window. That was less fun. Apart from that one morning, though, we loved it, and John was very happy with the space to play guitar.  HelpEx (and WWOOF and WorkAway) is truly one of my favorite ways to travel – getting out in the countryside, occupying your day with work, chatting with interesting people, and seeing things you wouldn’t usually get to see!

1 year ago

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